The 2018-19 NHL regular season is quickly approaching the hockey universe. Rule changes are common every season that goes by. The upcoming regular season is no different, as the NHL is now focusing on the equipment that the goaltenders can wear inside the net.
For the upcoming season, the goaltending equipment, mainly the chest protectors are set to get smaller. This will leave larger areas of the goaltender’s neck and shoulders open and unprotected.
The reason the NHL is making the changes to the goaltending equipment is because the league wants to increase overall scoring. Over the last decade, the NHL has tried various things to try to improve the overall scoring around the league. In 2017-18, the NHL averaged 2.97 goals per game.
The safety of the players is the primary issue when it comes to changing hockey equipment. In this case, the goaltenders will likely have less equipment protecting them in various spots on their bodies.
While the new equipment is slimmer and likely weighs less on the goaltender, the equipment does not protect the goaltender’s body as much as it used to. Most of the goaltenders that play in today’s NHL are big and very athletic. The lighter weight on them will likely make them move a little bit quicker inside the net.
The downside to the goaltenders losing equipment is that there is more room for a puck to leave a mark on the goaltender. Even though the areas around the shoulders, biceps, and elbows are well protected, there are still some areas where the equipment does not cover totally.
IS THE RISK WORTH THE REWARD?
Hockey players are some of the best athletes in the world. Most of the goaltenders are very athletic and agile, and can move very well inside the net, even if they are off-balance.
On the flip side, there are many skaters in today’s league that are highly skilled and can put pucks wherever they want. In addition to the precision shooting in the NHL, some of the players can fire the puck at very high rate of speed. This can pose a major threat to a goaltender if he gets hit by a puck in an unprotected area.
The equipment change is a work in progress for the NHL. The NHL needs to be careful with this kind of change to avoid any major injuries. Player safety should remain the league’s top priority, and goaltenders should be very well-protected.
The experiment with the goaltending equipment is worth a try, and should be closely monitored by the league. The league cannot afford sustaining major injuries to the most important position on the ice. Ideally, this is a league issue that should get resolved before the regular season gets underway.
By: George Foussekis